Imagine the Action: A Trick From the Kitchen

Before getting to the trick, there was a lesson taken from a mental health first aid course that was memorable to say the least. The lesson came from a woman who broke down the 8-hour class into a four word process. She explained that our mental health is the way we live, love, laugh and learn. She called this the “4 L’s.” She explained anything that affects the way you live, love, laugh and learn is something that affects your mental health. I thought this was a brilliant explanation. In fact, I use the very same explanation in some of my own presentations.

There are lectures from doctors and motivational speakers who discuss the direction of our thinking. There are topics on the absorption of our energy and discussions on both anabolic and catabolic energies.
There are lengthy discussions about the benefits of forward thinking and positive interaction. However, in a classroom filled with people who were in attendance to fulfill a work requirement or for the limited few who sat in the classroom by invitation, the topic of mental health took on a biased approach.
We talked about our ability to live, love, laugh and learn and as for the impacts, we talked about experiences that would affect all four. We talked about the factors of mental illness and the problems that our society faces. But no one spoke about mental health improvements or fitness. No, the focus was on the problems not the solutions. Meanwhile, mental health is neither a positive or negative concept. Instead, this is only a status.

It’s clear that we spend a lot of time recognizing the obvious. It’s clear that we notice all the harshness around us. It’s easy to lose sight of the good things and it’s easy to miss the uplifting moments that happen throughout the day.
It’s easy to find ourselves in what I call “emotional quicksand” and it’s easy to sink and drown in our own thoughts.
It’s stinking thinking, or so they say. It’s anxiety. It’s depression or depressive thinking; or maybe we are feeling the impact of people, places or things.
For example, the last two years of our recent history have devastated the world. We have lived through a historical pandemic. We have seen loss and experienced separation. We have endured changes and lived through worldwide concern about a virus that has claimed millions of lives. Businesses were closed. Factories were closed. We are experiencing shortages in the marketplace due to the interruption of our production. There are financial concerns as well as health concerns. Therefore, this is certainly enough to affect the way people live, love, laugh and learn.  

It’s true. The moment at hand is crucial. Our world is on the verge of an all-out war. Think about this, we were about to turn a corner and improve our standing from the pandemic and then war breaks out.
There are news clips of violence. There are reports in my City about crime hikes and drug overdoses.

Politics have become the new religion and politicians are taking the place of scientists. Suddenly, opinions on science and vaccinations determine the direction of political beliefs. 
These subjects have come to sow discord between families and friends. Clearly this is enough to affect the way we live, love, laugh and learn. 

There was a quote that raised some attention the other day. Although the intention was comedic, admittedly, there was a little sting to the comment which read, “So, I’m hearing that kids today refer to the 80’s and 90’s as the late 1900’s.”
To me, that’s just an “ouch” right there but I say this in jest and in good spirits.

Then again, this is all about the direction of our perception. For example, watching the news seems to be a depressing act.
And yes, I can understand this is an opinion that comes from my perspective. However, my point is that I tend to take on the energy of my conversations. It is easy to lose one’s self in the heat of aggression or an argument. It is easy to lose to fear when thinking about fearful things. If this is true and our mind takes on the energy and chemical changes as a result of our thinking, whether these are thoughts of aggression, fear or other means which build anxiety; then it would be equally true that we can take on the energy of an adverse surrounding. This means we can think ourselves into a direction of being.

So, then why did I title this entry A Trick from the Kitchen?
Well, here you go . . .

I am not a cook by any means. I am no chef nor do I ever plan to be. However, there have been times when I was down. There were times when I was upset or stewing in my thoughts. And there were times when I swore that I was about to lose my mind. I was hurt or anxious. I was angry or worried about the uncontrollable outcomes. My depression was reacting in which my mindset and my thinking were following the energy of my thoughts.
Therefore, to solve the unsolvable problems I had to replace my thoughts with opposite actions. I could not change what was unchangeable or fix what was unalterable. Instead, I had to find the next best thing, which was to change the direction of my thinking so that I could improve the way I lived, loved, laughed and learned.

Now, I mentioned my cooking abilities at the beginning of the last paragraph for a reason. Sometimes, the best thing to do is prepare a good, healthy, hearty meal.
Regardless of my cooking skills, I can say that there was a time when I believed that I was beaten. My depressive thinking ran away from me and at the time, I was stuck in the crazy concepts that built up in my head. Know what I did?
I put on some music and let it play while I gathered my ingredients. And again, I would like the record to reflect that I am not a chef so please refrain from the cooking critiques.
I put my energy into my meal.

I understand that tastes and flavors are relative and that country-style pork ribs are not for everyone. However, the meal itself is not about the meal; but more, this is about the preparation and the transfer of my energy.

I cut the boneless ribs into chunks and browned them. I cut up some onions and some carrots and added a few cloves of garlic and some cut up potatoes. I put in a little beef broth.
I used a cup of red wine and two cups of apple cider. There was some salt and pepper in the mix. There was a little bit of flour. There were some red pepper flakes too. I put the browned hunks of meat from the pan into the mix. I made sure to scrape the oil out and all the little bits from the pan to purge the flavors of my stew. Then I placed all of this into my trusty machine and let the slow cooker do its magic.
This cooked on low for about four to five hours and although the gratification was not instant, the house smelled amazing. The preparation took time and took care. This meant I had to pay attention which allowed me the ability to focus my energy on something more nurturing than anxiety or depressive ideas. 

I am not saying that a good meal is always the remedy or an answer to every riddle. However, when I was struggling to live, love, laugh or learn, my experiences taught me a way to replace thoughts with action. As for the meal, as soon as it was done, I enjoyed every bit of it
(twice)!

Not everything is going to coincide well with our “4 L’s” and life is always going to be life. People will always be people and, yes, I will always be a person who was born in the late 1900’s.
(Damned kids!)
Either way, our energy is contagious. Life is also contagious and do you know what else is contagious?
Our ability to live, love, laugh and learn can be contagious too, which is why we choose our surroundings and the people we speak with carefully.
Or at least we should.

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